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Both little Faye and her older sister Greta tell their Mom Wendy that they both want to be pilots when they get older.  Today will be Faye’s first flight in a small airplane, but Greta was old enough last year to participate in the Girls Take Flight! event, so today will be her second flight.  She is just as excited this year as she was last year.

Little Faye stared in awe at the impressive Porter Airline Captains and First Officers looking ever so impressive in their uniforms.

Greta says, “she did not know that girls could be pilots”, so she is fascinated with the idea.

Girl with Headset
One of the Many Girls enjoying her First Flight and Learned About Opportunities in Aviation

This is exactly what Lesley Page and her team of 150 volunteers hoped for when they invested a full year to prepare for this event.  “It’s a lot of hard work, but the smiling faces on these young ladies makes it all worthwhile”.  Lesley continues, “just 6% of the pilots worldwide are woman, and that is just wrong”.  Clearly, it is time for a change.

Judy Cameron
Retired Air Canada Boeing 777 Captain, Judy Cameron

Porter Airlines is a shining example of this needed change to integrate more women into aviation.  They employ many women as Captains and First Officers as well as in numerous other important roles within their business.

Porter Pilots
Porter Airlines Female Pilots

Porter Airlines generously flew 50 girls to Oshawa Executive Airport in a Canadian-built Bombardier Aerospace Q400 turboprop aircraft.  One of the pilots pointed out that it was just a 10 minute flight from Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, located on an island in Toronto Harbour, but that was of no consequence to the girls on-board who loved every minute of the trip.  If they flew across the country it would have been the same thrill for these girls.

All of the Porter staff attending the event were volunteers too.

Porter Airline Q400 Aircraft with all female crew flew a full load of girls from Toronto Island to Oshawa for the event

The First Canadian Chapter of the 99s and Enterprise Airlines invited girls and women to the Oshawa Executive Airport to experience aviation!

The annual Girls Take Flight! event was scheduled this year at the Oshawa Executive Airport on Saturday April 29, 2017.  The focus of this volunteer-driven event is to introduce girls, between the ages 8 to 18, to the world of aviation.  Statistically, females trail in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines and this event is aimed to share the opportunities, possibilities, and career paths available to all young women and to ignite an appetite for aviation.  The event has assembled a stellar group of nine female industry leaders who will present and inspire these future aviatrixes, engineers, mechanics, instructors, operations, and support staff to consider work in this rewarding industry.  The line up of speakers includes:

  • Marie-Soleil Beaulieu – Air Cadet, Warrant Officer 2nd Class
  • Captain Jackie Book – Royal Canadian Air Force Pilot
  • Judy Cameron – Air Canada Pilot, Retired
  • Claire Lemiski – Porter Airlines Pilot
  • Karen Deme – Bombardier Production Test Pilot
  • Anne Hoffman – Pearson Tower Air Traffic Controller
  • Anita Shrivastava – Bombardier Aerospace Engineer
  • Emilie Gagnon – Seneca College Flight Instructor
  • Kristianna Draper – Paramotor Pilot

The goal of the event is to spark a passion for aviation in these girls.  At these formative ages, now is the time to share with them that they can be pilots.  To let them know that they can grow up to be successful in so many aspects within the aviation industry.  Lesley says, “it is time to bust the perceptions!”  To do this, she and her army of volunteers hope to provide the girls with an exceptional aviation experience.  With 20 amazing exhibitors and 9 highly respected speakers, the stage was set to deliver on the promise for a potential life-defining experience for these girls.  About 200 girls flew in this event.  There was no charge to them for their flight adventures.

Girl in a Jet
A Future Fighter Pilot

The presentation program began at 9:45 a.m. and the location was Enterprise Airlines at the Oshawa Executive Airport, 1190 Keith Ross Drive, Oshawa, Ontario, Canada.

The members of the Buttonville Flying Club (BFC) are delighted to support this event again.  The club donated to help sponsor the event.  As well, the generous personal contributions of club members contributed to the success of the event by providing ground crew, marshals, volunteers, aircraft, pilots, and operating costs, kindly contributed by individual BFC members.

About the Author

Michael J Martin is a licenced pilot and passionate aviation buff.  He lives in Toronto with his wife Candy and their four dogs.  He plans to attend a variety of aviation events this year.  He will go to AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, Thunder over Michigan, and Selfridge ANGB Open House and Airshow in Michigan.  He will volunteer for the Red Tails / Tuskegee Airmen Traveling Exhibit at these three major events in 2017.  As well, he plans to attend several local, smaller events around Ontario, Canada to practice his aviation photography passion.